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Context: In the 49th flight of the Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle (PSLV), ISRO is set to launch the third generation earth observing satellite Cartosat-3 along with 13 other foreign satellites.

Prelims: Current events of national and international importance.
Mains: GS III-

  • Science and technology- developments and their applications and effects in everyday life Achievement of Indians in science & technology; indigenization of technology and developing new technology.


  • At 1,625 kg, Cartosat-3 is unusually heavy and more than double the mass of the previous eight in its class.
  • Many new technologies have been built, such as a highly agile or flexible camera; high-speed data transmission, advanced computer system, and new power electronics.
  • It is aimed to have the `sharpest eye’ of civil remote sensing satellites in the world.
  • It will be carried by PSLV-C47.

What’s so special about Cartosat-3?

  • A key feature of the Cartosats is that they help to detect changes in natural geographical or man-made features.
  • Their cameras can `look back and forth’ in an angle to generate continuous spot images.
  • One of Cartosat-3’s cameras offers a ground resolution of 25 cm – this means it can pick up an object of a minimum of that size from a height of around 500 km.
  • Currently, WorldView-3, a satellite owned by US company Maxar, has the best ground resolution of 31 cm.
  • Cartosat-3 ushers in the third generation of high-resolution `optical imaging’ satellites that enable precise cartographic or mapping activities, apart from their unstated military use.


Cartosat series:

  • The Cartosat satellites are a series of Indian earth observation satellites built and operated by the ISRO.
  • The Cartosat series is a part of the Indian Remote Sensing Program. They are used for Earth’s resource management defense services and monitoring.
  • So far, the ISRO has orbited eight Cartosats since May 2005.
  • Data from most of them, especially the last four Carto-2 series ones, launched in relatively quick succession in the last three years, are exclusively used by the armed forces.
  • The second one, Cartosat-2 of January 2007, breached the 1-meter threshold, which was an ambitious benchmark at that time.
  • The previous best view from a Cartosat was 65 cm, as put in the last three or four satellites in the Cartosat-2 series – 2C, 2D, 2E and 2F.
  • However, an existing policy allows only government and government authorised agencies to access ISRO’s high-resolution imageries below a resolution of 1 meter.


  • The imageries from Cartosat series satellites are useful for cartographic applications, urban and rural applications, infrastructure planning, coastal land use, and regulation.
  • It also finds applications in utility management such as monitoring road networks, water grids or distribution, creation of land use maps, among others.


  • Apart from Cartosat-3, PSLV-C47 is also carrying 13 commercial nano-satellites from the US.
  • Flock-4P satellites, also Earth-observation satellites, account for 12 of them.
  • These are from a private company Planet.

PSLV(Polar Satellite Launch Vehicle):

  • It is used for delivering various satellites to Low Earth Orbits. It is designed mainly to deliver the “earth-observation” or “remote-sensing” satellites. With lift-off mass of up to about 1750 Kg to Sun-Synchronous circular polar orbits of 600-900 Km altitude. 
  • The remote sensing satellites orbit the earth from pole-to-pole (at about 98 deg orbital-plane inclination). An orbit is called sun-synchronous when the angle between the line joining the center of the Earth and the satellite and the Sun is constant throughout the orbit.

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